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Richard Ackland: statement from the editor-in-chief

Date

Our long-time respected columnist Richard Ackland has taken to Twitter to claim he has been sacked.

I just wanted to make a few points in response.

I was informed by Richard last Friday by email after lunch that he was doing a regular column for The Saturday Paper. 

Given Richard had worked as a regular columnist for the SMH for 17 years, I felt - perhaps naively - that he would have sought my thoughts prior to committing to this work - not AFTER the fact. 

At the time of his email, that edition of The Saturday Paper had already been printed.

A few days ago, I told Richard that he needed to make a decision on whether he wanted to continue contributing regularly for the SMH - or whether he wanted to work for The Saturday Paper. 

I could not countenance both - especially given that the Saturday Paper deal was done prior to me getting a chance to properly consider how arrangements might have worked. If I had been approached by him before the deal, I might have been able to strike such an arrangement. 

I have been negotiating with Richard for a few months on a contract which would have allowed him to undertake alternative commissions - but obviously with my prior approval and in circumstances where his role as a long-standing SMH columnist were properly credited. 

I have wished Richard well with the Saturday Paper - while still encouraging him to pitch his ideas, as a freelancer, to our op-ed pages and all other relevant sections of the newsroom. 

He has been an outstanding columnist for the SMH for nearly two decades.

I have not sacked him. He has made his own decision.

Darren Goodsir

Editor-in-chief

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